Henry Blois is as devious as always in appearing to be speaking as Merlin back in the sixth century. He employs the device we have witnessed before of anchoring in time, references to his own HRB, and also to known events in the British Annals.
Henry’s aim is to speak prophecy as if it were the confused misinterpreted rambling of a mystic whilst leaving no doubt as to the person he is referring to; yet causing confusion, because of the apparent anachronism. In the confusion the Norman reader could take special notice of Cadwalader. In the HRB we hear of Cadwallo:
Now, a little later, a son was born unto King Cadvan of the Queen his wife, and thereafter were the two boys, whereof the one was called Cadwallo and the other Edwin. And when in course of time their boyhood had grown into youth, their parents sent them unto Solomon, King of the Armorican Britons…921
Also in the HRB: Discord having thus arisen betwixt them, and the men of both having harried the lands of the other in a number of armed forays, both at last met on the further side of Humber, and in the battle that was fought Cadwallo lost many thousands of his men and was put to flight, making his way in such haste as he might through Albany unto the island of Hibernia. But Edwin, after he had won the victory, led his army through the provinces of Britain, and burning the cities, did grievously torment the citizens and husbandmen. But whilst that he was thus giving a loose unto his cruelty, Cadwallo was ever endeavouring to return unto his country by ships, but could never make shift to do so, for that unto whatsoever haven he steered his course there was Edwin with his host to meet him and forbid his landing. Now there was come unto him a certain right cunning wizard out of Spain, by name Pellitus, who was learned in the flight of birds and the courses of the stars, and did foretell unto him all disaster that might befall, and along of him it was that Edwin had witting of Cadwallo’s return so as thus he was able to meet him, shatter his ships and drown their crews, and close every port against him. Cadwallo, therefore, not knowing what to do, and well-nigh falling into utter despair of ever returning, at last bethought him or going unto Solomon, King of the Armorican Britons.922
Cadwallon ap Cadfan which the HRB refers to as Cadwallo died in 634 AD and was the King of Gwynedd. He was the King of the Britons who invaded and conquered Northumbria, defeating and killing its King, Edwin. His conquest of Northumbria made him the last Briton to hold substantial territory in eastern Britain.
921HRB XII, i
He is therefore held as national hero by the Britons and as a tyrant by the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria. Geoffrey in the HRB has Cadwallo surviving until after the Battle of the Winwaed in 654 or 655. Geoffrey is never one for dates, just general era, so as not to disagree with the British annals. Henry Blois, as we have shown in appendix 18, is really trying to cause an insurrection in England against Henry II through Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd c.1096-1172. The prophecy is certainly aimed at the modern era not only by the spelling of Cadwalader but the fact he is linked to Conan of Brittany in the same era.923
Cadwaladr was the third son of Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd, and younger brother of Owain Gwynedd. Together with his brother Owain, Cadwaladr led three expeditions (1136–37) against the English stronghold of Ceredigion to the south killing the lord of Ceredigion, Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare. During the reign King Stephen, Owain and Cadwaladr extended the boundaries of northern Wales almost to the city of Chester. They captured five castles in the north of Ceredigion then later in the year launched a second invasion, inflicting a heavy defeat on King Stephen’s lord of Ceredigion, at the Battle of Crug Mawr, just outside Cardigan.
In 1137 they captured Carmarthen. Cadwaladr later married Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare’s daughter Alice (Adelize) de Clare. Gruffudd ap Cynan died in 1137 and was succeeded by Owain Gwynedd, Cadwaladr’s elder brother. Cadwaladr was given lands in northern Ceredigion by him. The forces of King Stephen of England had been besieging Lincoln Castle in 1141 but were themselves attacked by a relief force loyal to Empress Matilda and commanded by Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the Empress’ half-brother.
Cadwaladr joined with Ranulph, Earl of Chester in the attack along with Robert of Gloucester’s forces. In fact a later prophecy in the Vita Merlini which (we shall cover shortly) shows Henry has added prophecies after the fact which did not occur in the updated set in HRB:
I see Lincoln walled in by savage soldiery and two men shut up in it, one of whom escapes to return with a savage tribe and their chief to the walls to conquer the cruel soldiers after capturing their leader, refers directly to the battle of Lincoln.
The GS author, Henry Blois, narrates the same events that Ranulph Earl of Chester staying at Lincoln castle had heard of King Stephen’s entry into Lincoln and escaped to raise the army of Robert of Gloucester and Cadwaladr: the Earl of Chester sent to Robert Earl of Gloucester, Miles also, and all who had armed themselves against the King, and likewise brought with him a dreadful and unendurable mass of Welsh.
Henry Blois, as we witnessed in the HRB, despises the Welsh and calls them savages later in the VM. In the Gesta Stephani he holds the same opinion of them, ‘dreadful’! Henry refers to Cadwallader as ‘revered’. But in 1156 he is in the guise of Merlin predicting a revolt of the Celts against Norman rule i.e. Henry II. Looking back in time to 1141, when Henry Blois’ bother, was captured at the battle of Lincoln and taken prisoner to Earl Robert’s castle in Bristol. Cadwaladr was only probably at Lincoln because of his marriage alliance to Alice de Clare, daughter of Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare.
923See appendix 18
In the intervening years, after the battle of Lincoln, King Stephen died and Cadwaladr had a quarrel with his brother Owain which led to his exile in England. Henry II invaded Gwynedd in 1157 right at the time Henry Blois is trying to incite insurrection in the prophetic words of Merlin. As we now know through history, his plan did not come to fruition. Like Conan in Brittany, Cadwaladr was appeased by Henry II, the terms of the peace agreement between King Henry and Owain Gwynedd included the stipulation that Cadwaladr should be given back his lands at Hess in Shropshire.
It is a known fact that Henry II put stead in the earlier prophecies of Merlin along with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry Blois’ plain aim was to incite both Celtic leaders to take up the crown of Brutus by rebellion against King Henry II. The Cornish and the Scots were only included for the aura of credibility of the prophecy; a total rebirth of the Christian Celtic nation ridding itself of foreign rule.
Motivating the Celts to their (prophetic) destiny, Henry Blois coaxes them to join forces to obtain self-rule and the return of the crown of Brutus. It just so happens that Henry II who is numbered the ‘sixth’ is replaced by the ‘adopted one’ who is seen as the ‘seventh’ King in John of Cornwall’s set of Merlin prophecies also concocted by Henry Blois. The Celtic belief of Arthur’s return is interchangeable with the utopian ideal of the Briton state, a state which existed from Brutus to the Romans and then to Arthur in Henry Blois’ concocted faux-history.